Ethiopia still supports Lapsset, state insists – The Star, Kenya

Ethiopia is fully committed to the development of the ambitious Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor, the Lapsset Corridor Development Authority maintains.

The agency has dismissed reports that the land-locked northern neighbour has shifted focus to the port of Djibouti since the demise of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August 2012.

There’s a $4 billion (Sh408.4 billion) standard gauge railway connecting Addis Ababa and the port – the route used to ferry about 95 per cent of Ethiopia’s exports and imports.

However, Lapsset authority director general Sylvester Kasuku says Ethiopia cannot ignore the project since it borders Kenya, and is party to the African Union resolution which agreed to “build a world-class infrastructure” that involves development of multiple corridors in the region.

“Ethiopia is on board and its southern part is more prime to use the Lapsset,” Kasuku said in an interview with the Star.

This comes as the Sh2.5 trillion project slowly begins to take shape with the ongoing construction of the first three berths at the Lamu port by the Kenyan government.

The project, launched on March 2, 2012, has faced financial hitches, with rival deals by participating states feared to stall it.

It includes the $1.55 billion (Sh158.3 billion) Horn of Africa 550km pipeline project linking Ethiopia to the port in Djibouti City.

Lapsset, which is expected to start operations in 2018, includes an import storage facility that can hold 950,000 barrels of jet fuel, diesel and gasoline.

Ethiopia is also said to be more focused on the $4 billion (Sh408.4 billion) 700km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway line, already complete, with more than 90 per cent of its trade being transacted at the Djibouti port.

However, Kasuku dismissed the claims saying Ethiopia is committed to Lapsset, and is almost completing a 700km road linking Addis Ababa with Moyale.

“A study shows there is more business between Mombasa and Addis Ababa which will benefit from the Lapsset corridor. Djibouti serves the Northern part of Ethiopia,” Kasuku said.

He said sectors to benefit include mining and agriculture, specially sugarcane farming, mainly practised in Southern Ethiopia.

Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera said the government is “fast-tracking the construction of the 115km Lamu-Witu-Garsen and Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo roads” to link the Lamu port with Ethiopia.

Tarmacking of the 505km Isiolo–Marsabit-Moyale road under the Lapsset corridor is near completion.

Kenya has completed building a $9 million (Sh919 million) one-stop border post at Moyale, aimed at facilitating easy movement of goods and people between Kenya and Ethiopia.

On June 11, 2015, the World Bank approved $500 million (Sh51 billion) for the development of the north-western Kenya transport and trade corridor, to improve trade between Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

It includes upgrading of the 309km road section from Lokichar to Nadapal/Nakodok.

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